Digital transformation is rapidly shaping the global financial landscape, and Bitcoin, the leading decentralized cryptocurrency, stands tall as a symbol of this revolution.
While Bitcoin’s global popularity is undeniable, there is an emerging trend highlighted in a recent survey conducted by Block, Inc. Jack Dorsey, Inc., in association with Wakefield Research: Developing countries are showing increasing optimism about Bitcoin.
The survey, which covers 15 countries and collects insights from 6,600 individuals, provides an interesting glimpse into how perceptions of Bitcoin are evolving. Between 2022 and 2023, Bitcoin experienced significant price fluctuations. However, rather than frustration with these market dynamics, optimism about Bitcoin’s future has remained above skepticism on average. Vietnam, Brazil, China and Mexico led the way with the largest increases in optimism. Nigeria, India and Argentina saw a slight decline in optimism, but it remained well above average.
One of the main attractions of Bitcoin has traditionally been its potential as a profitable investment. But the data points to a surprising trend: While countries with well-established banking systems are slowly recalibrating their investment views of bitcoin, developing countries increasingly view it as more than just a speculative asset. For these countries, Bitcoin represents a symbol of financial freedom, a hedge against economic instability, and an opportunity to bypass traditional banking restrictions.
One of the main points of the survey revolves around the close relationship between remittances, optimism and participation in Bitcoin. Traditional remittance channels, which often feature exorbitant fees and tedious processes, appear to put Bitcoin’s value proposition as a neutral, cross-border monetary network center stage. This in turn appears to be leading to increased recognition of Bitcoin as an effective tool for international remittances in developing countries.
For context, 86.8% of adults who own Bitcoin are part of a household that regularly sends or receives remittances — and people at this intersection are more optimistic about Bitcoin’s future than those who are not involved in remittances. This is clearly evident in countries such as Vietnam and India, which boast high rates of household participation in the remittance economy. Stablecoins are still more popular than Bitcoin for remittances on average, but Bitcoin’s proposition as a fast, transparent and cost-effective remittance tool is gaining momentum.
There is no doubt that government regulations play a pivotal role in shaping the cryptocurrency landscape in any country. While developed countries grapple with regulatory ambiguity, the narrative is starkly different in developing countries. However, India presents an interesting scenario. Despite regulatory uncertainty, India shows the highest rate of Bitcoin ownership among the countries surveyed. It is worth noting that a larger proportion of Indian women own Bitcoin compared to men, indicating a social and economic shift where women are actively seeking financial empowerment. Likewise, countries like Nigeria and Vietnam, despite the diverse economic challenges they face, are showing increasing enthusiasm for Bitcoin, revealing an inherent confidence in its ability to meet their unique financial needs.
On the other end of the spectrum, countries like China, which has a stricter regulatory stance against cryptocurrencies, represent the contradiction. Although many in China claim to know Bitcoin owners, few have said they own Bitcoin themselves. This difference underscores the pivotal role that government regulations play in shaping citizens’ public stance on their relationship with Bitcoin, while also promoting the fight against the fragility of the technology. In fact, Bitcoin cannot be banned.
Argentina and Brazil, two South American giants, are also showing a growing affinity for Bitcoin. Both countries show higher ownership rates than most countries in the survey, and are also more optimistic about Bitcoin than average. In Argentina, where inflationary pressures persist, Bitcoin is increasingly seen as a protective shield against economic fluctuations. At the same time, Brazil seems to be realizing the multifaceted potential of Bitcoin, from diversifying investment portfolios to its utility in purchasing goods and services.
This difference in perception between the two countries can be explained by the contrasting realities of their economies. While Brazil, the largest economy in South America, has enjoyed a fairly stable paper currency since the advent of the real in the 1990s, Argentina has for decades been plagued by hyperinflation. Brazilians can transfer reals to each other instantly and without fees through Pix in a relatively stable financial system. As a result, they view Bitcoin mostly as an investment. On the other hand, Argentines view Bitcoin as “more trustworthy than a government-backed currency.”
Block’s comprehensive survey is a testament to the unique value that a global monetary network without gatekeepers or rule-makers offers developing countries. While traditional global financial centers continue their cautious dance around Bitcoin, developing countries, driven by a combination of economic aspirations and challenges, are emerging as new vanguards of the Bitcoin revolution. Their collective sentiments are a powerful reminder that Bitcoin’s appeal lies not just in its market value, but in its transformative potential to redefine global financial inclusion.
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